Category Archives: dementia

You Get the Picture

Who needs a thousand words when it comes to mom?

There is no denying mom’s talking less and less, but when she says something, you listen and long for every word.

I had just dropped her off at Circle Center Adult Day Care. She was in her wheelchair, eyes closed, when I kissed her cheek and whispered, “Bye, mom, I love you … I’ll see you later, OK?”

Surprisingly she answered, “You’re not going to leave me here are you?”

“No mam. I will never, ever leave you. I have to go to work, but I’ll be back later to get you, OK?”

“OK.”

I gave her one last hug, and as I headed for the door, I heard her say loud and clear, “Good luck to you and your lover. (PAUSE) Ain’t that nice?!”

I looked back and her eyes were still closed, her head was slowly nodding up and down, and I swear she was smiling.

It looked to me like she was totally pleased with herself for, well, being so nice.

I don’t know where it came from, but I still can’t get this picture out of my mind, and I don’t even know what it looks like.

 

 

A Look I’d Never Seen

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It was snowing like crazy, and mom was all bundled up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll (that’s what cars and wheelchairs do in the snow) to Circle Center Adult Day Care, aka heaven on earth!

On the way out the door, I asked Carolyn, our caregiver extraordinaire,  where mom’s glasses were.

“They just keep falling off, Tom. She just can’t keep them on … and (long pause) … she really can’t see much anymore. Her eyes are closed most of the time now, even when she eats. I just don’t think she needs them anymore.”

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Looking back on it now, I realize I was only halfway listening to Carolyn. I think I was focused more on how I was going to conquer the snow and get from Point A to Point B without losing two of my most favorite people on this planet … mom and me!

It wasn’t until I had safely made it to Circle Center and was lifting mom from the car into her wheelchair, that I noticed her again without her glasses. I took a picture of her and then just stood there, my eyes fixated on her face, crying.

The snow was falling in slow motion, in unison with my tears.

It was the first time in my life … my entire life … that I had seen my mom start her day without her glasses.

When I first started caring for her, it was a struggle to even get her to take them off at bedtime.  And, often, she’d have them on again before getting out of bed in the morning.  Maybe she needed them to see her dreams. Who knows? All I know is I never knew.

I wiped my eyes on my coat sleeve and wheeled mom into the lobby. It was as warm as the welcome from the receptionist. “Good morning, Tom! Pretty rough going out there this morning. Glad to see you and your mom made it safe and sound.”

Then she turned to mom. “Hey, Helen! Don’t you look great in that red coat of yours. (Pause) Helen … where are your glasses?”

I basically gave her the same explanation Carolyn gave me. They’re always falling off. Mom keeps her eyes closed most of the time now. And, even when they’re open, I’m not really sure she sees much of anything anyway.

Then the receptionist asked if I was OK. I don’t know whether my eyes were giving it away, but I started tearing up again. “I’m OK. It’s just that … I have never seen my mom without her glasses on … my entire life … never.”

“For all I know, she was born with her glasses on … little tiny baby glasses that must have grown up with her.”

I tried to pull a smile out of my hat, but it wasn’t working.

I bent over to kiss mom’s cheek and say goodbye. Her eyes were closed.

I whispered, “I love you mom … I’ll see you later.”

I went back out into the cold wondering if my mom would ever see me again.

Christmas Baby is 96

Gray hairs seem to my fancy like the soft light of the moon, silvering over the evening of life.- Jean Paul 

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Mom was born on Christmas day, 1919.
Today she’s celebrating her 96th birthday!
That translates to 35,064 days and 35,064 nights on this planet.
There have been exactly 1,187 full moons since she was born.

How many of them have you seen?

As fate would have it, mom will have a full moon shining over her on her birthday! The last Christmas full moon was in 1977. The next one will be in 2034.

Happy birthday, mom!

Here’s to many more full moons coming your way!

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

mom bites blog picMY MOM BITES.

And, she throws a mean left hook. Oh, and while I’m at it, I might as well share the bark part. She barks out words I never, ever heard her say in my entire life (my worst fear is that she may have picked them up from me).

There, I’ve said it … my mom is my little stick of dynamite and should come equipped with a warning sign.

I’ve been told it’s the disease. I have been told it is a primal place she goes when she feels threatened, agitated or confused. I have even been told she has a mean streak. Dementia, old age, constipation, the next stage, whatever … warning, warning, warning.

Now, before you go back and reread all of my blogs and say they were a cover up, or made up, or not on the up and up, please know they are all true. But, so are the things I am describing in this blog.

Mom in a Blanket

Shhh! Let sleeping moms lie.

Most of the time mom is indeed a joyful person. Most of the time she is cooperative and appreciative of those of us who are lending her a hand. Most of the time she lulls you into believing it’s going to be all of the time, but it’s not … and the change, more often than not, occurs without warning.

People who care for my mom love her.

People who care for my mom are wary of her (remember that mean left hook).

And, I am by no means the only one experiencing all of the above. I have friends who I met in the Circle Center Adult Day Care support group who are also primary caregivers for a loved one, At times, my friends look more challenged than who they’re caring for.

No one I have ever known looks forward to waking up in the morning (or middle of the night) to be bitten, hit, or barked at … especially by someone you love.

And yet, when caregivers share their stories with each other, they/we always express that we feel guilty for the way we feel. Or, feeling it must be something we’re doing (or not doing) to provoke the behaviors we’re on the receiving end of.

So, we just take it.

TOM’S WARNING: Caregiving is not for the weak of heart. You must be damn tall to ride this ride.

WHAT IT TAKES.

It takes courage.

It takes willpower.

It takes conviction.

It takes love.

And, if you are not careful, it takes you out.

Word to the wise: TAKE CARE!

Never forget, caregiving is a give and take proposition.

The problem is, we give so much, we forget the mission critical importance of the take part.

Caring for yourself and letting others care for you are the keys to your sustainability.

This is not a sprint … it is not even a marathon … it is a run for your life!

TAKE CARE!

Take time outs.

Take time for yourself.

Take memories.

Take a cry.

Take a laugh.

Take hugs.

Take a hot bubble bath … make a that a double.

Take help from yourself.

Take help from others.

Take care whenever and wherever you can get it and never feel guilty or unworthy.

Take guilt and the feeling of unworthiness and throw them away.

Take pride in what you are accomplishing and applaud the courage it often takes to meet the ever changing, always rearranging needs of your loved one.

Take whatever it takes to protect your individuality and your right to make a life for yourself.

Never forget … caregiving is a give and take proposition. If you do forget, it will come back to bite you.

For every give you give, make sure you take a take.

We’ve all heard the familiar mantra of the airline flight attendants during their pre-flight instructions, “…make sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attempting to help someone else put on theirs.”

The question is, are you are listening?

Make this your mantra!

TAKE CARE!

Serenity Prayer

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and (the) wisdom to know the difference.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Vote’s for Topnotch and Mom

Mom’s a lifelong flag waver

Mom’s showing her true colors and at almost 93, still bleeds red, white and blue.

It is amazing when you think that she has voted in 17 general elections and her first vote was for Franklin D. Roosevelt to serve a third term. Her last vote was for Obama four years ago, and when I say last, I mean her last, because she will be sitting this one out.

Even so, I asked her who she would be voting for and she said, without really knowing the candidates’ names, “I am voting for topnotch, whoever that is.”

Mom’s a voter’s voter.

I pulled a postcard addressed to mom out of the mailbox a couple of days ago and proudly showed it to everyone I could. It compares mom’s voting record in the last five general elections with others in her neighborhood, and you can see she received the highest mark.

I wish the organization that sent the postcard would have gone back in the public records far enough to add the other 12 general elections mom voted in. She might have won a trip to Disney World!

So, today, I will be casting my vote in mom’s honor as well as to all of you who consistently exercise your right to vote. As long as you vote, and vote for topnotch, whoever that is, the red, white and blue will continue to fly above all others, it’s a gift of freedom to honor, cherish, protect and behold.

A Side Note: Mom’s home was built in 1796 which means it has been on this earth for every general election since our second president, John Adams! No telling how many votes have been cast from folks who lived in this home. I know mom, dad and my sister, Nel, sure did cast their fair share. 

What’s HIS Name?

Quick, illuminating exchange with mom this morning.

Me: Mom, what’s the name of Jesus’s father?

Mom: Mr. Christ.

The Great Challenge: Win by a Nose

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Great granddaughter, Livi, has issued her great grandmother, Helen, The Great Challenge.

Livi lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, and has challenged mom, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, to balance a spoon on her nose, no super glue or other adhesives allowed.

The challenge was issued with the following image attached.

Well, maybe it was just the picture that was sent, but I am making it into a challenge.

There is  no question that Livi looks like and has the confidence of a champion.

What Livi doesn’t know is that mom has been practicing balancing a spoon on her nose for some time now and though her practice sessions are always done undercover, I have never underestimated her winning ways.

From the looks of things, mom seems mighty happy with what just happened.

In fact, judging from the two pictures, it is just too close for me to call!

So, I am calling on you to comment and tell me your choice of who should Win by a Nose. Votes will be closed at midnight on June 25th and the winner will be announced the next morning. So shoot your comments my way.

Who is the champion?

Is it Livi?

Is it Helen?

God only nose!

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